Westgate Villa, a Japanese garden in Shropshire

Jude and I have a soft spot for gardens with a Japanese feel to them, and we are lucky to have an excellent example in our home county of Shropshire and just a short drive away. We had heard of the garden at Westgate in Bridgnorth and always intended to pay a visit but circumstances had not allowed us to. But eventually we managed to make their National Garden Scheme open day in April.

It was well worth the wait! We loved it, the planting, the structure and its special atmosphere. The front garden however was of a very different feel altogether being a formal garden designed to match the age and style of the house. Foliage was the star there!

On the flight of steps nearby foliage again featured but this time succulents were the stars.

   

Moving around the house looking in small borders and corners we found interesting plants and objects that gave clues to the beauty of the Japanese section we were making our way towards. This area prepared us so well for the treat that lay ahead of us.

      

We stepped through an archway into a different world with an atmosphere of such peace that it made us feel so calm. The Japanese garden at Westgate was one of the best examples we have ever seen in an English garden. Come with us on a journey through such a special place. To view the gallery click on the first photo and navigate using the arrows.

 

 

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My Garden Journal – July

So it is already time to share my July entries in my garden journal. This year in the garden seems to be moving on so quickly. I began my July report by writing, “The arrival of July moves us into the second half of the year and the summer is well established. Colours seem extra rich on bright days as petals shine glossily.”

“One family with flowers that glow are the Lychnis family. Below are two members of Lychnis, the variety L. chalcedonica and another variety L. coronaria.”

“Lychnis chalcedonica “Dusky Pink”

 

“Lychnis chalcedonica “Vesuvius” and Lychnis chalcedonica “Maltese Cross”

 

“Lychnis coronaria”

   

Over the page I move on to look at an unusual Foxglove, Digitalis parviflora “Milk Chocolate” and a berried shrub, Hypericum x inodorum.

“Plant of the month, July, is a special Foxglove or Digitalis, Digitalis parviflora Milk Chocolate.”

“No two flower heads are the same.”

 

“Densely packed flowers.”

“Most berrying shrubs begin to show colour in their berries in late summer through the autumn, but already by July our various cultivars of Hypericum x inodorum have brightly coloured and very glossy berries.”

  

The next plant family I feature in July is Linaria, of which we grow many varied cultivars.

“Members of the Linaria family are always welcome in our garden. We love the way they self seed and hybridise. They display a huge range of colours and petal markings. Linaria purpurea is much loved by bees and hoverflies.”

    

“Our garden is home to other more unusual Linarias too, all with their recognisable flower structure.”

 

“We also grow our native Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris, commonly known as “Butter and Eggs” because of the two shades of yellow that make up its flowers. Bees and butterflies love it!”

Next I looked at plants that are spiky in texture, of which we grow many in our patch as they seem to like our sunny aspect.

“Plants with spikes enjoyed warm, sunny summer days. We grow many eryngium family, the Sea Hollies, with bracts from the palest silver to the deepest metallic blues, of which E. Picos Blue is the bluest of all.”

   

Not all of our spiky plants are Eryngiums however. We also grow Silybum marianum and Echinops ritro.

  

One of the Eryngium family is a biennial and luckily a strong self seeder, E. giganteum Miss Wilmott’s Ghost.

Turning over the page we move on from spiky plants to two much softer more delicate looking plants.

 

“Seed heads are an important element of the Autumn and Winter garden, but this little beauty I found this week while working in the Spring Garden. They are Fritillaria meleagris seed pods. I painted them in watercolours using Japanese wolf hair brushes and fine tipped fibre tips.”

“July sees many of our Salvias coming into their own. We grow most in pots so they can be moved inside for the winter.” I used pencil crayons to draw Salvia Silkes Dream and Salvia x African Sky.

Bright pinks and reds dominate over the page where I featured Begonias and Pelargoniums. Enjoy the colours!

“Begonias and Pelargoniums also have to over-winter under cover so go into the cool end of the greenhouse.”

“Brightest of flowers.”

 

“Textured, marked and coloured foliage.”

Pelargoniums – “Crazy reds and pinks!”

    

 

And that is it for my garden journal for July. My next visit to my journal will be at the end of August, a month when keeping you garden looking good is pretty difficult so we shall see how we get on in our Avocet garden.

 

Posted in colours, garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, half-hardy perennials, hardy perennials, July, Shropshire, shrubs, South Shropshire, village gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Gardens at Hurdley Hall

We are so lucky to live where we do in so many ways, not least of which is the number of excellent gardens we can visit within a day. Recently on a Sunday we found a garden open under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme, the same scheme that our garden is a part of, and this one at Hurdley Hall was just over a half hour drive away.

We parked up in a rough pasture field alongside a farm and trudged uphill to the garden itself entrance. We obtained our tickets and walked down the drive which fell steeply to the garden itself, but this did afford us excellent glimpses of what we could expect so our expectations were heightened. Apart from the garden encompassing the house there were meadows, a new orchard and woodland to explore so we were in for a busy afternoon.

The house itself was first built in 1630 with additions made in 1718, 1820 and 2010. The garden was just 15 years old. The view from the house and garden was of a wooded valley and a steep hill which is a nature reserve.

 

Where we sat to enjoy the views with tea and cake we were close to a very colourful herbaceous border, displaying interesting colour combinations. The garden also boasted a small kitchen garden with raised beds and a shaded area with pond.

       

To one side of the house a more formal area contrasted well with the softer plantings we had seen so far. Lots of pale stonework and blue flowers gave this area its own character, almost Mediterranean.

   

After enjoying a slow wander around the garden under a baking sun we followed a sign for the meadows. We passed through a gateway and followed close cut grass paths through the meadow which gave us views of a newly planted orchard and woodlands. Come with us through the six-bar wooden field gate and explore the meadows and woods by following my gallery, which finishes off this visit to this wonderfully atmospheric garden and the land beyond.

To follow the gallery click on the first photo then navigate with the arrows.

 

 

Posted in architecture, countryside, fruit and veg, garden design, garden photography, garden ponds, gardening, gardens, grow your own, hardy perennials, July, kitchen gardens, landscapes, meadows, National Garden Scheme, NGS, ornamental trees and shrubs, Wales, woodland, woodlands, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Return to The Picton Garden

The Picton Garden situated close to the Malvern Hils in Worcestershire, is well known as a garden to visit in late summer through to early autumn, mainly because it holds a national collection of Asters. The vast number of asters grown there are featured among herbaceous plantings with some pretty special shrubs and trees too. We love it at that time of the year but knew after listening to Helen Picton talking that it should be a garden worth visiting throughout its open period.

We decided to make a visit at the beginning of April to see what the garden had to offer at that time of year. We found so much of interest and enjoyed our visit immensely. To the one side of the carpark a small rock garden was in the middle of being developed and already showing plants of interest especially these unusual irises and species tulips.

 

We loved the bright blue gate welcoming us into the garden – very inviting indeed, made even more so by this succulent planter on top of a brick pillar close by.

 

A large pot of very bright tulips set the scene for what was waiting to be discovered on our wanders around the meandering pathways. Here in the gallery below are some of the colourful tulips we found as we walked around. As usual click on first photo and navigate using the arrows.

The beauty of looking around a garden in the spring months is being constantly on the look out for special specimens which can sometimes make us stop, bend over and get a close up look. Here at The Picton Garden there were special tiny plants to get close to as well as many perennials, shrubs and trees, making it a very special spring garden. The younger members of the Picton family are making their mark on these already special gardens and extending the seasons of interest. Take a wander with us along the winding gravel paths as we discover the Picton Garden in April.

Posted in flowering bulbs, garden design, garden furniture, garden photography, garden seating, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, hardy perennials, irises, National Garden Scheme, NGS, nurseries, ornamental trees and shrubs, shrubs, spring bulbs, spring gardening, village gardens, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Return to Bryn y Llidiart

We have a selection of favourite gardens that we like to return to whenever we can. These are often newly established gardens which we like to see developing over time or gardens which are good at different times of the year.

Bryn y Llidiart, up in the Welsh Hills not too far from home is a developing garden which is in a spectacular site but a difficult one to garden in. Christine the garden owner is up for the challenge and the garden is full of interest and reflects its positions beautifully. We have seen it develop for a few years now and love every visit.

 

Close to the house is a colourful area of planting featuring a reflecting pool of corton steel. This patch has lots of interest in a small area and contrasts effectively with the broad views in much of the rest of the garden.

    

From the intimacy of the reflecting pool garden I will turn my camera on the bigger picture, the wider views of the garden. The situation is described in the NGS Yellow Book with the introduction, “Up the airy mountain you are in for a big surprise! “

            

One of the special features of the gardens at Bryn y Llidiart is the planting combinations so I shall finish our visit with a selection of how Christine groups her plants to best effect.

We will visit again in the future and share the visit with you on greenbenchramblings.

Posted in garden design, garden photography, garden ponds, garden pools, gardening, gardens, hardy perennials, landscapes, meadows, ornamental trees and shrubs, outdoor sculpture, Powis, Wales, water garden, water in the garden, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Garden Journal 2017 – June

We have reached the half way point through the year and I am beginning a second book in my Garden Journal 2017. A book of blank pages waiting to be filled with words, paintings and photographs.

On the first page of my new book I started my June reports by writing, “June is the month when our wildlife friends become very obvious, pollinators and predators work away helping us out, and all our wild friends entertain us, stimulating our senses. We had a dip in the wildlife pond with a net and found a healthy population of newts and dragonfly larvae. Whenever we sit in the summerhouse for a tea break we are entertained by birds coming for a drink or bathe in the pebbled shallow end, especially bright are the Goldfinches with their splashes of red and yellow. Next to the summerhouse door a pair of Blue Tits is nesting in one of our boxes. Both parents are making frequent visits into the garden to collect caterpillars to feed to their young. Each day these caterpillars get larger as the youngsters  grow and their appetites grow even more quickly.

Wildlife in the garden is so entertaining!”

Over the page brightly coloured photographs glow from the pages, photographs of Geum cultivars.

“Plant of the month for June is the Geum, the cultivars with hot colours – yellows, oranges and reds, – Totally Tangerine, Koi, Mrs Bradshaw, Lady Stratheden ………………..”

        

Leaving the brightly coloured Geums behind I next looked at a few representatives of our garden’s wildlife friends.

“Double Brimstones, butterfly and moth, the Brimstone Moth and the Brimstone Butterfly. 

The Brimstone Butterflies are one of the earliest arrivals in our garden but a few continue to fly in May and June. The Brimstone Moth flies in both daytime and night time.”

On the page opposite I talk about and paint the Little Owl, a regular visitor to our patch.

“We host three owls in our garden, the Tawny, the Barn and the Little. When we first moved to Plealey our Little Owl migrated in search of warmer places every Autumn to return in Spring.Today they stay with us year round. We love this change!”

 

Over the page I share with you some of our Foxgloves, the Digitalis family.

“Foxgloves, spires of colour buzzing with bees,  flower every day this month. Bumble Bees and our neighbour’s  Honey Bees disappear right inside the larger flower gloves. Bees explore each flower on each spike starting at the lowest bloom and moving upwards methodically.”

             

Next I looked at one of our poppies, Papaver somniferum the Opium Poppy.

“Papaver somniferum comes in a variety of  pinks and lilacs”. 

     

“The small orange double poppy is Papaver rupifragum “Orange Feathers”.

From an orange poppy to an orange rose I moved on to look at a small flowered orange patio climber.

“Rosa “Warm Welcome” is a small climber and a cheerful charmer. Roses continue to flower profusely throughout the June garden.”

    

June turned out to be a difficult month for the garden with extremes of heat accompanied by a long dry spell causing plants to suffer especially relatively recently planted trees and shrubs. We water trees every week for a year after planting but a week’s holiday prevented us from doing this. We returned to find trees and shrubs with brown shrivelled leaves. A sad sight. I wrote, “June ended up being a dry month with many plants showing signs of stress, especially trees planted this year and lawn areas. We need rain urgently!” I included photos of some of the plants looking worse for wear.

    

On the opposite page, which is the final page for June I mentioned the return of the rain, refreshing us and the garden. “In the last few days of the month, steady rain helped put life and vitality back into our garden putting extra sparkle in flowers and gloss on foliage. We can only hope that trees planted earlier this year survive. They look troubled! Lilies however quickly burst back into life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in birds, garden design, garden photography, garden wildlife, gardening, gardens, hardy perennials, ornamental trees and shrubs, poppies, roses, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, shrubs, trees, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park – June

We made our June visit to Attingham Park early in the month to see how summer was coming on in the walled garden and in the wilder parts of the park along the woodland walks. We enjoyed a view of the cottage garden on our way to begin wandering beneath tall trees towards the walled garden.

  

The walled garden impressed us so much because it was full of colour, with plants in the double herbaceous border bursting with blooms.

We left the walled garden taking the path through the adjoining orchard, where we sat for a while to enjoy some ice-creams. Fully refreshed we followed the winding paths beneath the trees and between the shrubs, taking the Woodland Walk before taking a short cut back to the parkland, over two bridges and past the hall itself. You may notice that as we crossed over the bridges we enjoyed playing Pooh Sticks.

I thought I could share my photographs via a gallery for you to enjoy. Please click on the first pic then navigate using the arrows. I hope you enjoy the views we enjoyed.

 

Our next visit to Attingham Park will be in July when we will be well into summer.

Posted in fruit and veg, garden photography, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, kitchen gardens, National Trust, ornamental trees and shrubs, photography, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, The National Trust, walled gardens, walled kitchen gardens, woodland, woodlands | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments